In speaking with my male friends—grown men committed to their families—we are all in agreement as to what we want from an intimate partner. I can proudly say that none of my friends is an absolute asshole and those who are a little “assholy” are trying to work their way through their embedded learning and cultural conditioning to be better men. Still, I can only speak for myself.
There are days I wish I could be the macho, classic, uncaring man’s man of the “I don’t give a damn what you do or feel” set. But I just can’t do that because I was wired by women: my grandmother, mother, and sister. They helped me learn how to treat the women in my life.
When I look into a woman’s eyes or read a certain expression, I ask, “how do you feel?” “What’s bothering you?” “Do you need to talk?” I have learned that, as a man, I don’t have to have all the answers so I have gagged and tied up the little monster in me that wants to fix things for the women I love. Instead, I stop what I am doing—put down my phone, turn off the TV—and just sit, focus, and listen.
It is OK for a man to be outwardly caring, empathetic, and truly feeling in a relationship. The men who chose to nurture this fatherless child that I am have taught me that it was OK to feel because they loved me, protected me, and shared valuable life lessons with me.
Keep in mind, there is no such thing as a perfect person or a perfect relationship between two people. Two people can get closer to perfection when you communicate, when you apologize, when you set common goals, when you compromise and when you truly understand the definition of love and how reciprocal it is. If two people can agree to commit to each other’s growth and each other’s goals (team goals and individual goals) then you both can work towards longevity in a relationship that is effortless, comfortable, and nurturing for you both. Love is a plant, if you water it, it will grow.
The partner who chooses to be in your life is a “gift” and if they provide the calm, the safety, the guidance and respect that you seek (and you’re man enough to return the same to your partner) then you have something worth nurturing.
What do sane, healthy, empathic men want in an intimate, romantic relationship? Consider my reciprocal list:
- A partner who is emotionally available because I am. I had to learn to be emotionally available.
- Someone considerate because I am.
- Someone who loves themselves and practices self-care so I can learn to be better at my own self-care.
- Someone who will be as proud of me as I am of them and who will hold my hand, hug me or kiss me anywhere and at any time. It’s intimacy, folks.
- Someone who will tell me when they have a problem with me because frankly, I don’t gossip to my male friends about problems in my relationship because it’s none of their business and I would prefer to fix it rather than sharing it with people who don’t have relationships of any value of their own and in their own twisted mind they want you to be as lonely and as miserable as they are.
- Someone who understands that I have a heart and it operates just as yours does and sometimes, it’s in pain and it needs nurturing.
- Someone who values me as I value them; someone who would strive to keep me in their life in a healthy way.
- Someone silly, funny, and spontaneous who doesn’t take themselves so seriously that they cannot appreciate self-deprecating humor (I do have a dark humor gene that erupts from time to time).
- Someone who doesn’t see the fact that I cook, clean, do laundry and can sew…that it doesn’t make me a lesser man, but a partner that understands that even though some roles are traditionally expected to be done by some women, life isn’t traditional anymore and everyone needs to do their part to ensure that the boring-ass life-load isn’t placed on one person. That you share in the responsibilities because they work as hard, if not harder than you do.
- Someone who understands that because I can’t put up drywall, or build you a house with my bare hands…that I am that man that can babysit your child (even when it isn’t mine) and keep your child, fed, healthy, safe, engaged and happy even when you aren’t home, or just need a weekend away with your girls.
- Someone who understands that I am imperfect. A person who remembers the good that I do.
- Someone who appreciates my calm demeanor because I don’t freak out when you are freaking out…that doesn’t mean “I don’t care” it means that I process things differently and I try to keep my emotions in check so that I can think rationally. Besides, Isn’t one of us freaking out enough?
- Someone who understands my dark side and won’t run when they see it present itself, but maybe when the time is right…ask me what I am feeling without making assumptions.
- Someone who understands that Men get tired too. We get exhausted with having to always be on, be competitive, worrying about money, paying bills, etc., just as you do. And sometimes, we need you to tell us, “it’s going to be O.K.”
- Someone who isn’t so superficial that only what’s “outside” matters, because if there is any longevity to what we are doing our looks may change, our love for each other will remain and that in the end is what matters.
- Someone who has good hygiene (don’t laugh). My teeth are straight and clean, are yours?
- Someone who won’t run away or cheat when things get rough because I never run away and I don’t cheat (yes, I said that) because I have been cheated on, and I know how completely devastating that can be and what it takes to reclaim yourself afterward.
- Someone who will speak to me with respect. Because I will endeavor to always do the same to you and if I slip? Call me out on it so that I can relate to you in a way that you can receive my message in a loving thoughtful manner.
- Someone who appreciates some sarcasm. Sarcasm is an art. But when someone is having a serious discussion it isn’t the time to be sarcastic, it’s the time to be humble and listen to your partner because snarky sarcasm can be construed to be an attack or shade. Timing is everything.
- Someone who also wants good sex (move the kids out of the room now). Good sex is different things for everyone, so creativity, laughter, submission, dominance, role-playing…anything you want to do as consenting adults is OK with me. Here is where we get raw, sometimes you just want to fuck, and sometimes you just want to make love, know the difference between the two and be caring enough to tell or show your partner what you want and desire. Some people bring so much stress to the bedroom that it affects everyone’s enjoyment (and for men, that’s significant) because if we are already stressed, and you add more stress, our soldier does not salute. I do have two things however…don’t try to make an out and in and don’t make me bleed. We all have one or two boundaries.
I want someone who understands that just because I want all that is listed above that I am not weak or needy, but that I am an empath. I feel deeply and there is nothing emotionally that affects you or me that doesn’t burrow its way into my psyche (whether I want it to or not) and that sometimes I need to recharge so I can be better for myself and you.
Most of all, understand that empathic men don’t choose to feel; we are wired this way.
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